How New Order based Blue Monday on classic sci-fi

13 April 2020, 15:30 | Updated: 5 March 2021, 17:17

New Order in October 1989: Gillian Gilbert, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook
New Order in October 1989: Gillian Gilbert, Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook. Picture: Bob Berg/Getty Images

The classic Manchester tune has a title that is unrelated to the lyrics - so what does it mean exactly?

By Martin O'Gorman

On 7 March 1983, New Order finally ditched the comparisons with their previous incarnation Joy Division with the biggest selling 12” single of all time.

Released three years after the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, Blue Monday was influenced by the flood of new music technology and a lot of time spent sampling the early 80s nightlife of New York.

Featured a jackhammer drum machine beat and octave-leaping bassline, the record was a huge hit in clubs across Europe that summer, prompting people to buy it in their droves when they returned home.

Behind the shimmering, cutting-edge sound Bernard Sumner’s vocal is a dour reminder of the band’s Manchester roots: “How does it feel / To treat me like you do?”

The title “Blue Monday” doesn’t appear anywhere in the lyric, so where did it come from?

It was inspired by a book that New Order drummer Stephen Morris was reading at the time: Breakfast Of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday by the noted science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut. It’s post-modern satire on society and was published in 1973.

Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr in 1985
Author Kurt Vonnegut Jr in 1985. Picture: Oliver Morris/Getty Image

Keyboard player Gillian Gilbert told The Guardian in 2013: “It's a reference to the invention of the washing machine, which improved housewives' lives.”

One of the illustrations in the book interprets the banishing of the washday blues is given a more extreme solution.

But that's just the start of Blue Monday's mysteries... while the music has its own inspirations and influences, what about that iconic cover?

What's the secret message on the cover of New Order's Blue Monday 12"?